Like father like son: Viktar Lukashenka becomes National Olympic Committee head

NOC meeting. 26 February 2021. Photo: president.gov.by

On February 26, the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Belarus elected its president, TUT.BY reports.

Viktar Lukashenka has become the third head of the NOC after Uladzimir Ryzhankou (1991-1996) and Alyaksandr Lukashenka (from May 1997 and until recently).

In early December, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued a statement in which they blamed the Belarusian NOC leadership for not protecting the Belarusian athletes from political discrimination, and defined their negligence as ‘contrary to the fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter’. The IOC also announced introducing certain restrictions amid the post-election protests in Belarus, in particular, barring the members of the Belarusian NOC executive board from all IOC events, including the Olympic Games, which referred to Alyaksandr Lukashenka (the then NOC President) and his eldest son and NOC legal representative Viktar Lukashenka. Among other things, the IOC decided to suspend all financial payments to the NOC of Belarus, with the exception of payments related to the preparations of the Belarusian athletes for, and their participation in, the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.

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In turn, Alyaksandr Lukashenka threatened to ‘take legal action’, calling the IOC and its president Thomas Bach a ‘gang’.

“Okay, you punish me, but why involve my children? What sanctions have they introduced after all? Not to invite to events? I have not attended them for 25 years and I will survive it. I was most outraged by their decision against my children. This is absolutely groundless,” he said.

A few days ago, the British media outlet Inside The Games informed that the participation of Belarus under its own flag at Tokyo 2020 would be high on the agenda at the IOC Executive Board. According to them, if the board decides that athletes protesting against Lukashenka are still being discriminated against, then further action could be taken, including suspension of the NOC and its athletes being forced to compete under the Olympic flag.

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